Arnarstapi is a small fishing village located on the south part of Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland. The village is located at the foot of Mount Stapafell and close to another small village called Hellnar. It is very popular to photograph the mountain and surrounded houses. Arnarstapi is one of the most popular places to visit on the Snæfellsnes peninsula not only by foreign visitors but also Icelanders who many own a summerhouse in the area.
Arnarstapi used to be an important trading post and fishing village for West Iceland but today the harbor is only used for small boats and the village has become a popular place for tourists. The harbor is exceptionally beautiful surrounded with columnar basalt and diverse birdlife. The merchant monopoly of Denmark was in effect at Arnarstapi from the year 1565 and some old houses from that time are still there. One of these houses is called the Amtmansshús which was the residence of the Danish Prefect from 1774-1787 and has now been declared a historical site.
There is a lovely hike along the beach between Arnarstapi and Hellnar. The trail is an old horse trail og goes through a lava field called Hellnahraun. The trail offers a great diversity and a beautiful nature. The lava formation along the coastline are very unique and there is a very interesting and beautiful cliff located there called Gatklettur. Most people start this walk by the statue of Bárður Snæfellsás but it can also been done from the small harbor. The walk takes about 1 hour and is about 2,5 km long. In Hellnar there is a small and cozy café called Fjöruhúsið located near the coast at the end of the hike. The café offers baked goods and a very good fish soup.
Bárður Snæfellsás is said to be the protector of Snæfellsnes. In the Icelandic Saga he is a half human and half troll and is very big as can be seen by the size of the statue. Bárður is also the settler of Snæfellsnes and he gave the name to the peninsula.
The drive from Reykjavík to Snæfellsnes Peninsula takes about 2 hours. Take Ring Road nr. 1 towards the town Borgarnes and then take road nr. 54 to Snæfellsnes. From road nr. 54 turn left on road nr. 574 and drive for about 20 minutes to Arnarstapi.